Vol: 75 Issue: 25 Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Covenant Life Church has proved so successful in harvesting souls for Jesus Christ that it spawned a mini-denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries. It counts 52 affiliated churches in 17 states plus Great Britain, Bolivia, Mexico and Canada, and supports start-up churches in Ethiopia and Uganda.
C. J. Mahaney leads what he terms a “reformed charismatic” movement, with the emphasis on “reformed,” which some view as radical by modern evangelical Christian standards.
Covenant Life Church, or CLC as members call it, has a $5 million operating budget, a capacious new $22-million building expansion, a 50-member staff and a 280-student private school.
With no formal college or seminary education, Mr. Mahaney, 49, has written or edited five books and oversees a training center for pastors that has graduated 73 men in six years.
The previous few paragraphs were taken verbatim from a Washington Times story entitled, “Keeping their eyes on the cross”.
It goes on to describe the thousands of believers that came to Christ as a consequence of Mahaney’s growing ministry and the efforts of the Covenant Life Church to spread the Gospel in remote parts of the earth — the stuff churches are supposed to do, but seldom get around to.
As I was reading through the piece, I came to the part where Mahaney was giving his salvation testimony. “The son of a Takoma Park sheet metal worker and the third of five children in a Roman Catholic home, Charles Joseph Mahaney rejected God at age 12 in favor of sports and, later, the drug culture. His sojourn at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring was not promising.
“My SAT score was so low I didn’t even qualify for the University of Maryland, the state where I was born, raised and lived all my life,” Mr. Mahaney recalled in a sermon last spring. “I took my SATs while on LSD.”
He was born again, he says, the same night that a newly converted friend shared his faith rather than sharing a hash pipe.
He says God used a newspaper ad to lead him to a prayer meeting of young converts called Take and Give, or TAG. By 1974, at age 20, he was alternating teaching assignments with Larry Tomczak, 24, an intern with the AFL-CIO.
Other than the Bible, the only Christian book the long-haired Mr. Mahaney had read was Hal Lindsey’s apocalyptic bestseller “Late Great Planet Earth.” “
It is at Christmas time that I take the time to contemplate my blessings. I am a big fan of Christmas — it is my favorite time of year.
(I know all about the history of Christmas as a holiday, its origins and its many deficiencies as a spiritual holiday. But as a cultural holiday, it’s still my favorite)
At Christmas, all my kids come over, with all their kids and we all get to be kids together for one whole day. At Christmas time, I am surrounded by — and particularly reflective of — the many blessings God has granted me.
At Christmastime, I honor the Lord’s birth by reflecting on the Gift of eternal life that He gave me. The process began with His birth, regardless of what the actual day was.
I reflect back to the day of my salvation and sit awestruck as I watch the redemptive process take place all over again in my mind.
I know, better than any other human being, what I was saved FROM and how miraculous in nature my spiritual transformation was.
Like Pastor Mahaney of Covenant Life, I had read only two Christian books before I got saved back in 1975.
The Bible and The Late, Great, Planet Earth.
This column is a reprint of a column first published Christmas, 2002